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80% of base station processors to be SoC based by 2017

Posted: 09 Nov 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:femtocell? picocell? microcell? basestations? system-on-chip?

ABI Research has recently stated that it expects sales of base station processors to grow at 17 per cent annually and reach $1.1 billion in 2017. The research firm attributes its prediction to the growth in compact format femtocell, picocell, and microcell base stations, which account for the majority of the processor market in 2017.

With macrocells declining at 13% per year over the next five years and microcells growing at a modest seven per cent, the large growth in picocells and outdoor femtocells will consume the majority of next generation base station processors. As the number of these compact femtocells and picocells grows, the penetration of system-on-chip base bands will grow at 108% annually to reach almost 80% of the total market in 2017.

As a capacity shortfall looms, service providers are deploying Heterogeneous Networks (HetNets) with small cell underlays in dense urban areas and using distributed Radio Access Networks (RANs) to narrow the gap between capacity and demand, and all of these techniques are driving integration into the next generation base station base band.

Nick Marshall, a principal analyst at ABI Research, stated that these next generation base band processors are heterogeneous multi-core SoC devices including both DSP and CPU cores for control and data plane processing along with hardware acceleration and connectivity for backhaul and radio interfaces.

Merger and acquisition activity is high in this segment C Broadcom's acquisition of Provigent, Percello and NetLogic, Mindspeed's purchase of Picochip, Wavesat's sale to Cavium, Xilinx's acquisition of Modesat, and Qualcomm's purchase of DesignArt all indicate that there are significant revenue opportunities for base band SoCs in the evolving distributed RAN and HetNet segments and that vendors are positioning themselves to challenge current leaders Freescale Semiconductor and Texas Instruments.

"With the latest SoCs available or becoming available over the next 6-9 months in 28nm silicon technology these will be some of the most advanced base band ICs ever produced and raise the bar in terms of complexity," added Marshall.

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